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To Get One's Money's Worth, in French + Downton Abbey

A rare tornado in France over the weekend!

A tornado on the outskirts of our village!  (filmed by firefighter John Liqr (c) photo copyright /Facebook)

TODAY'S WORD: une trombe

    : whirlwind, waterspout, torrent

démarrer en trombe = to hurtle off, leave in a whirlwind
en trombe = at full throttle
des trombes d'eau = a downpour

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Hear Jean-Marc pronounce these French words: 
Download MP3 or Wav

C'est une trombe marine qui a dégénéré en tornade
It is a waterspout that degenerated into a tornado.


by Kristin Espinasse

Chatting on the phone Saturday with my dad and my belle-mère, I was confused when Dad asked about the weather, "I hear you are having some bad storms?" he said.

I looked out the window and quickly reported back that, no, it was only lightly raining outside, or, as Jean-Marc would say sarcastically during last summer's canicule and the brief respites,  hardly enough to wet the vineyard stones or mouillés les cailloux...

Speaking of wet... Mon Dieu! the scene outside the living room window had suddenly changed--and now things were pouring down rain! I handed the phone to Jean-Marc, so he could say a quick word to my belle-mère, Marsha, but he had barely said bonjour when the telephone line went dead. By now I was in the kitchen, watching my patates douces roast when the oven shut off--along with every light in the house!

The sky thundered once more, sending me scurrying towards The Comfort Zone (my bed!). But the old windows in the bedroom shook so much that I feared they might burst. 

The thought of windows reminded me of windshields, and the fact that Jackie should be home by now. She had only this week passed her driver's test... and now she might be navigating through this horrible storm.  Maybe Jean-Marc had heard from our daughter? I needed to go and find out.

Leaving my room, I felt a bizarre sensation behind me--something like a swirl lightly caressing my back as I walked out. I quickly turned, but all I saw was the window, which was still closed. Etrange....

No sooner did I find Jean-Marc, but Jackie arrived. "J'avais la peur de ma vie!" I have never been so scared, she said, recounting her ride home from the mall. "I could not see a thing. I was driving through a cloud. And then the car skidded!"

Jackie described how she had lost control of the small vehicle when it hit a flaque d'eau, or puddle, on the freeway. She held on tight to the steering wheel, trying to steady the car, having just passed a semi-truck which had slowed during the storm.

After listening to Jackie's story, we read this French news article and learned that it was a tornado that spun along the coast, right near our home to which Jackie was returning.


The next day I received an unexpected visit from my neighbor, Annie, who, weighed down with sacks of persimmons and pomegranates, walked slowly up our driveway as the sun shone down. What a calming scene after last night's flurry!

I thanked Annie for the fresh fruit and listened as she talked about the rare tornado in France. "There was one other..." she said. "I think it was in the 70s... It cut the cypress trees in half and carried off a part of the Chateau roof!" Annie said, of the historic building up the road from our house.

"I know it sounds odd," I said to Annie, "given we were miles away from the whirlwind...but I was walking out of my bedroom around the time Jackie was delivered safely home when I felt a light flurry at my back. But when I turned nothing was there."

Looking at me thoughtfully, Annie dispelled the mystery, "C'était la queue de la tornade." It was the tail of the tornado.


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Annie's delicious persimmons!  


It is rare that my husband and I co-read together, but Dierdre Heekin's book "An Unlikely Vineyard" is a treasure. "You are going to love it!" Jean-Marc said when he read the intro. Thank you, Nina and Charlie in New Hampshire, for this educational gift which I will use to further my permaculture garden studies!

When you order An Unlikely Vineyard, or any item at Amazon, via the previous link, your purchase supports this French journal. Merci beaucoup.

RECIPES - La Tarte Tomate
There are several classic French recipes on this blog, like this one--which is perfect for those end-of-summer tomatoes. Make the classic French Tarte Tomate. Click here

And how could I forget Annie's recipe! (Not for vegetarians...)

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
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